Christmas Morning in Antartica, that was a pretty surreal experience. Instead of Santa and morning buns, we were treated to Ali waking us up and telling us about another full day of adventure. Because of all the missed landings and scramblings, the kayaking and mountaineering activities were being assembled daily. Mal, the mountain guide, told Brandon and I we had two choices, either take an easy hike around Ketley Point, or try to possibly hike the next day, although that might mean spending a few hours in a wind tent while he took us up one at a time through a quick climb. I took the spot on the easy hike and left Brandon with the adventure.
I set off with my group, we got on shore and roped up, got our axes and snowshoes, and started hiking up the mountain. It wasn’t strenuous, and the weather mostly was warmer, so it was a good opportunity to just learn how a harder hike would have gone. We were always tethered to the person in front and behind us, and I learned real quickly that if the paces didn’t match up you were either pulling or being pulled. We didn’t have to be in marching formation, but pretty close to it. Once up top we hit the big winds and got a little science lecture on why that is. Then a good hike down the hill in the snow until we reached the shores.
Meanwhile, Amy and Charlie spent the morning hanging out with the penguins.
During lunch, the Kayak Leader took me aside and said he had a trip that he felt comfortable taking Charlie on, and the weather was right. So after getting the thumbs up from Charlie, I got to help launch all the kayaks into the water, gear up, gear Charlie up, and hop on a Zodiac which was towing our kayaks to our put in point at Foyn Harbour.
I elected to do all the paddling on our kayak and make Charlie the chief photographer and mascot. Even though we were super safe and the Plancius was right around the corner, paddling a kayak with your daughter in the Antarctic ocean was both serene and thrilling. The water was calmed as promised, the paddling wasn’t very hard, and there was plenty of opportunity to sight see. We even saw Brandon Mountaineering on a cliff while we were out.
We eventually ended up coming into a cove where we spotted a shipwreck. It was was remained of the Governoren, a whaling vessel from the early 1900s. We got to paddle into what was the deck, move around the whole ship, touch it and take plenty of pictures and videos of it. We thought we saw a random sailboat anchored next to the ship, but now knowing the ship’s history and it being a diving destination, they must have been there to explore as well. They even came out to check on something above deck and waived hello. After floating around some more, we paddled back to the Zodiac and cruised back to the Plancius for dinner.
Back aboard the Plancius, even though we had been thinking more of exploring than Christmas, the boat was decorated for the occasion. And most of the boat enjoyed having someone little enough to believe in Santa Claus to celebrate with. Charlie once again filled her role as unofficial mascot. During dinner, there was some singing and sharing, and at the end the Kayak guide came out dressed as Santa and had a gift to open for Charlie – very sweet!